Recommendations for vaccination against COVID-19 in children – PAHO / WHO

San Salvador, September 18, 2021. To support countries in the implementation of their vaccination programs against the COVID-19 disease, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization of the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a three-step process to provide guidance on overall program priorities, as well as recommendations on different vaccines.

Currently, six vaccines have been recommended for emergency use and interim recommendations for their use have been issued. These recommendations are being updated as additional scientific evidence becomes available on efficacy, safety and the need for reinforcement, taking into account the evolution of epidemiological conditions, among others.

PAHO / WHO gives its recommendations for vaccination against COVID-19 based on the evidence, which may be modified in correspondence with the new studies in progress of the different phases of the vaccines. Vaccine producers, as well as countries, must share information and documentation of the inclusion of new age groups in clinical trials, these results will lead to new recommendations on the use of vaccines and risk groups.

In July 2021, the regional Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meets and issues the following recommendations regarding the vaccination of children and adolescents against COVID-19:

  • Strongly advocate for governments to implement the SAGE roadmap to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines and achieve high vaccination coverage among healthcare and frontline workers, older adults, and other high-risk groups prior to administering doses to teenagers.
  • Adolescents who do not have a high-risk comorbidity should not be included in the national vaccination plan at this time.
  • Vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine is not a prerequisite for children or adolescents returning to school.
  • Pregnant teens should be encouraged to get the vaccine.

To date, the WHO has not yet approved any vaccine for children under 12 years of age, however, countries are autonomous in defining and deciding their vaccination strategy based on the recommendations of their Regulatory Authority.

It is important that countries develop communication campaigns so that children and adolescents practice public health measures such as: physical distancing, frequent hand washing, use of masks and avoiding crowded places. And they should also be tested if they develop symptoms or suspect that they are ill.

Links of interest:

TAG technical recommendations (July 2021): XXVI Meeting of PAHO’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Vaccines bring us closer, 14–16 July 2021 (virtual)

Page of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE): https://www.who.int/groups/strategic-advisory-group-of-experts-on-immunization/covid-19-materials

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